Cheapest Pay As You Go Bundles: The Best Prepaid Plans For Your Mobile
July 12th, 2016
With a bundle, you can convert your Pay As You Go credit into a one-month allowance of calls, texts and mobile internet. We compare the UK’s best value Pay As You Go bundles.
In the UK, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Pay As You Go deals. There are more than 60 bundles you’re able to choose from across nearly 20 different Pay As You Go networks. With strong competition in the Pay As You Go arena, the best value deals now rival those found on a Pay Monthly contract.
To get the best value from your Pay As You Go tariff, you’ll normally need to convert your credit into a 30-day bundle. When you buy a Pay As You Go bundle, it’s a little bit like paying for your airtime in bulk. Instead of paying for your usage on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, you just buy a 30-day bundle to cover all of your usage. If you’re a regular mobile user or if you’re a smartphone owner, this will normally save you money compared to using traditional Pay As You Go.
In the UK, there’s a wide range of Pay As You Go bundles available to choose from. In this article, we’ll compare the best value Pay As You Go bundles available to buy in the UK.
PAYG Bundles: How Do They Work?
When choosing a Pay As You Go tariff, it’s important to understand the two methods of paying for your airtime:
|Pay As You Go Bundles||Traditional Pay As You Go|
|Best for regular users and smartphone users.||Best for light users who don’t have a smartphone.|
|Get a 30-day bundle with calls, texts & data included. Pay a fixed amount which is known in advance.||Pay on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis. Rates are typically higher compared to a bundle.|
|Unused allowances expire after 30 days, after which you’ll need to buy another bundle.||Your credit doesn’t expire providing you keep the SIM card active.|
|No credit check & no contracts to sign.||No credit check & no contracts to sign.|
In the article below, we’ll be comparing the best value Pay As You Go bundles. If you’re a light user wanting traditional Pay As You Go, please see our alternative comparison article here.
A Brief Overview Of PAYG Bundles
In the UK, Pay As You Go bundles have been available since 2010. Having originally launched in response to growing smartphone adoption, bundles combine some of the benefits of Pay Monthly (e.g. low costs and certainty over how much you’ll spend) with the benefits of traditional Pay As You Go (e.g. lots of flexibility, no credit checks and no contracts).
With a bundle, the main difference is you’ll now be using your Pay As You Go credit to buy airtime in bulk. Instead of paying on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, you can buy a 30-day bundle to cover all of your usage. The advantage is you’ll get much lower rates and certainty over how much you’ll spend. For instance, a £10 top-up could buy you a 30-day bundle with 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of internet. On traditional Pay As You Go, this will only get you up to 250 minutes and 250MB of internet.
Traditional Pay As You Go tariffs are still available on the market and can be a better option for light users without a smartphone. On traditional Pay As You Go, your credit won’t expire providing you keep your SIM card active (this will normally mean using your phone at least once every 6 months).
At present, our recommended bundle costs £10/month on Pay As You Go from ASDA Mobile:
ASDA Mobile is our recommended network for anyone wanting an all-round good value Pay As You Go bundle.
For only £10/month, you’ll get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of internet. This is four times as many minutes as you’ll get on EE and three times more data to use each month. To take advantage of the offer, you’ll need to order a free SIM card from ASDA Mobile.
If you’re looking for a 4G-ready bundle with coverage from O2, we recommend giffgaff’s goodybag bundles:
giffgaff is another highly popular network for their Pay As You Go bundles. They have coverage from O2 and offer 4G internet on their bundles at no extra charge.
The most popular bundle on giffgaff is their £10/month goodybag bundle. This gives you 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of 4G internet. This is twice as much data and twice as many minutes as you’d get on O2 for the same monthly price.
For heavy users, giffgaff has a competitive range of bundles with more data each month (e.g. 2GB of data for £12/month, 4GB of data for £15/month and 6GB of data for £18/month). There’s also a £20 goodybag with Always On data (unlimited downloads with the first 6GB at 4G speeds).
Through the rest of this article, we’ll be comparing the Pay As You Go bundles available on each UK network.
In the tables below, you can hover your mouse over the mobile network’s logo to find out which network coverage provider they’re using (i.e. whether they’re using coverage from EE, O2, Three or Vodafone). You can also place your mouse over the data allowance for further information regarding download speeds and tethering.
Less than £10/month
There are six mobile networks currently offering a Pay As You Go bundle for less than £10 per month. All six are low-cost virtual network operators that piggyback on one of the main network coverage providers:
- ASDA Mobile uses coverage from EE (see our review).
- giffgaff uses coverage from O2 (see our review).
- Lebara Mobile uses coverage from Vodafone (see our review).
- Lycamobile uses coverage from O2 (see our review).
- Tello uses coverage from Three (see our review).
- Tesco Mobile uses coverage from O2 (see our review).
The cheapest Pay As You Go bundles typically start from about £5/month. For this, you’ll typically get in the region of 100 minutes and 100MB of data (0.1GB):
From £7/month, you can get 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of internet (0.5GB):
At the £10/month price point, there are currently 10 mobile networks offering a Pay As You Go bundle.
Our recommended bundle can be found on ASDA Mobile. For just £10/month, you’ll get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of internet. ASDA Mobile gives you 2G and 3G coverage from the EE network (you can check your coverage here).
For a 4G-ready alternative, we currently recommend giffgaff’s £10/month goodybag. It comes with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of 4G internet. As an alternative, giffgaff also has a £12 goodybag with twice as much data.
The following table compares Pay As You Go bundles currently available from £10/month:
For £15 per month, we’d recommend giffgaff’s £15 goodybag bundle. You’ll get 1,000 minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of high-speed 4G internet. You’ll get coverage from the O2 network.
If you’re a heavy data user, giffgaff’s £18 goodybag can be a good choice with 2000 minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of 4G internet.
At the £20 per month price point, giffgaff has unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and always-on data (unlimited downloads with the first 6GB at 4G speeds).
Alternatively, Three has a £20 bundle with 12GB of 4G internet (but with only 300 minutes to use each month).
£25/month and more
The following Pay As You Go bundles are available for £25/month or more:
The prices and allowances shown above can sometimes change without prior warning. If you’ve noticed a mistake in the tables above, please contact us by leaving a comment below. You can also send me an e-mail and I’ll endeavour to update the information as quickly as possible.
Sources for tariff information: payg.thephone.coop, shop.ee.co.uk, shop.tescomobile.com, store.three.co.uk, store.three.co.uk, lebara.co.uk, lycamobile.co.uk, tescomobile.com, tescomobile.com, freesim.vodafone.co.uk, mobile.asda.com, tello.co.uk, giffgaff.com, o2.co.uk. Last updated on 4th September 2016.
For more information on the best Pay As You Go deals, see our guide to the free Pay As You Go SIM card offers. You may also find it useful to see our guide on mobile coverage and on transferring your phone number from one network to another.
My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.
Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.